24 March 2001
Elevation Lifts Off In Miami
U2's Elevation 2001 tour opened to an ecstatic reception in Miami tonight.
Nineteen thousand fans, some who had travelled thousand of miles from Europe and South America for the show, created a luminous party atmosphere from the moment the show opened with the house lights full on and the band nonchalantly taking the stage to an ovation.
Elevation, the opening song, gave way to Beautiful Day, during which four huge screens suspended high above the stage lit up - each featuring black and white footage of a different band member.
'So Miami,' said Bono, 'We've been here before. We recorded a lot of POP here. We would have recorded more if it wasn't so much fun on the beach.'
U2 played nearly two dozens songs in a 130 minute set which stretched from I Will Follow, their first ever single, to Walk On, their most recent, with which they closed the show. In between they featured material from most of their ten studio albums but All That You Can't Leave Behind won the lions share with seven songs.
In amongst the fans were a coterie of famous showbusiness and sporting names including Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, Christy Turlington, Howie B, Daniel Lanois, Rick James and several members of Pearl Jam.
Stuck In A Moment was dedicated to the late Michael Hutchence, while for The Sweetest Thing, dedicated to Bono's wife Ali, the singer took up the piano himself - quite probably the first time this has happened in a U2 show. (Unless you know different...)
Discotheque ('This is a riddle about love...') segued into Staring At The Sun, during which fans were surprised to see the emergence of a video wall, rising tentatively to the rear of the stage.
The Elevation show, designed and directed by Willie Williams, includes videos - commissioned by the Irish artist Catherine Owens - for a clutch of songs, but they play a much more discreet role than in recent U2 tours. Tonight, as both manager Paul McGuinness and band members have recently been emphasising, was 'all about the songs'.
New York saw the descent of fifty foot drapes surrounding the stage - and projected with giant silhouettes of band members - and gave way to I Will Follow and Sunday Bloody Sunday, including a snatch of Marley's Get Up Stand Up.
Standing at the tip of the striking heart-shaped design for the Elevation stage, Bono introduced Larry ('Who gave us our first job and has never let us forget it', Adam ('our jazz man'), and Edge ('More children than Abraham').
The new stage set-up offered a club-like atmosphere for those in the 'mosh-pit' dancing at the front and delivered greater intimacy for other fans as Bono and Edge in particular, traversed all four sides of the arena on the walkway. In fact, in one break between verses in Where The Streets Have No name, the singer ran a lap and a half of the stage arriving back just in time to catch his next lyric.
If this surprised the audience, it was as nothing to the climax of a reminted version of The Fly, which finished with Bono diving headfirst into the audience and disappearing from view. Several minutes later he reappeared with the rest of the band stage rear again, for what turned out to be the encore of the set, opening with Bullet the Blue Sky.
'Thanks for following us all these years,' he said to massive cheers. 'Thanks for giving us such a great life, how was first night for you ?'
The returning thunder of applause and cheers suggested that for 19,000 people in Miami, this first night was one they will never forget.